Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Remembrance 2010

Today is Memorial Day, a day set aside to honor those brave souls who have fought and died for the freedom of a nation built upon their sacrifice. It is often the young who go off to war and who die. But it is their courage and determination that drives them to make the ultimate sacrifice.

My father-in-law, Raymond Smith, went off to war during World War II as a 19 year old young man with the determination in his heart that he was personally going to kill Hitler. He didn’t get the chance to kill Hitler because he was a part of a special operation known as Merrill’s Marauders that served in Burma during the war. Raymond was wounded and nearly died. He received a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, and a Silver Star for his gallantry during that campaign. I’m glad he survived so I could one day meet and marry his daughter.

My own father, Lee Fisher, served in George Patton’s Third Army during World War II, and was in five major battles. Thankfully, he survived, too. I had him in my life until he was 85.

I am a Vietnam Vet having served in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1969. I endured the fateful year of 1968. For those of you who don’t know, look up that year and take note of all of the major events that happened in that one year. One of the strange things about my own experience is that I don’t remember very many names, but there are faces I can never forget — fallen comrades as well as fellow survivors. But one thing I do remember. We all knew that what we were doing was important to the survival of our way of life. Unfortunately, many in our county didn’t understand that, and so, those of us who served in that war were never treated with respect. It was 30 years after I returned to civilian life before anyone ever said “Thank You” to me for my service. Thank God those who serve today are better respected by most people.

May we always remember with profound respect the sacrifices made by so many so that we can have the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, and may we never take those freedoms for granted. I would like to share with you President Ronald Reagan's 1986 Memorial Day remarks at Arlington National Cemetery:

Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It's a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others. It's a day to be with the family and remember.

I was thinking this morning that across the country children and their parents will be going to the town parade and the young ones will sit on the sidewalks and wave their flags as the band goes by. Later, maybe, they'll have a cookout or a day at the beach. And that's good, because today is a day to be with the family and to remember.

Arlington, this place of so many memories, is a fitting place for some remembering. So many wonderful men and women rest here, men and women who led colorful, vivid, and passionate lives. There are the greats of the military: Bull Halsey and the Admirals Leahy, father and son; Black Jack Pershing; and the GI's general, Omar Bradley. Great men all, military men. But there are others here known for other things.

Here in Arlington rests a sharecropper's son who became a hero to a lonely people. Joe Louis came from nowhere, but he knew how to fight. And he galvanized a nation in the days after Pearl Harbor when he put on the uniform of his country and said, "I know we'll win because we're on God's side." Audie Murphy is here, Audie Murphy of the wild, wild courage. For what else would you call it when a man bounds to the top of a disabled tank, stops an enemy advance, saves lives, and rallies his men, and all of it single-handedly. When he radioed for artillery support and was asked how close the enemy was to his position, he said, "Wait a minute and I'll let you speak to them." [Laughter]

Michael Smith is here, and Dick Scobee, both of the space shuttle Challenger. Their courage wasn't wild, but thoughtful, the mature and measured courage of career professionals who took prudent risks for great reward——in their case, to advance the sum total of knowledge in the world. They're only the latest to rest here; they join other great explorers with names like Grissom and Chaffee.

Oliver Wendell Holmes is here, the great jurist and fighter for the right. A poet searching for an image of true majesty could not rest until he seized on "Holmes dissenting in a sordid age." Young Holmes served in the Civil War. He might have been thinking of the crosses and stars of Arlington when he wrote: "At the grave of a hero we end, not with sorrow at the inevitable loss, but with the contagion of his courage; and with a kind of desperate joy we go back to the fight."

All of these men were different, but they shared this in common: They loved America very much. There was nothing they wouldn't do for her. And they loved with the sureness of the young. It's hard not to think of the young in a place like this, for it's the young who do the fighting and dying when a peace fails and a war begins. Not far from here is the statue of the three servicemen——the three fighting boys of Vietnam. It, too, has majesty and more. Perhaps you've seen it——three rough boys walking together, looking ahead with a steady gaze. There's something wounded about them, a kind of resigned toughness. But there's an unexpected tenderness, too. At first you don't really notice, but then you see it. The three are touching each other, as if they're supporting each other, helping each other on.

I know that many veterans of Vietnam will gather today, some of them perhaps by the wall. And they're still helping each other on. They were quite a group, the boys of Vietnam——boys who fought a terrible and vicious war without enough support from home, boys who were dodging bullets while we debated the efficacy of the battle. It was often our poor who fought in that war; it was the unpampered boys of the working class who picked up the rifles and went on the march. They learned not to rely on us; they learned to rely on each other. And they were special in another way: They chose to be faithful. They chose to reject the fashionable skepticism of their time. They chose to believe and answer the call of duty. They had the wild, wild courage of youth. They seized certainty from the heart of an ambivalent age; they stood for something.

And we owe them something, those boys. We owe them first a promise: That just as they did not forget their missing comrades, neither, ever, will we. And there are other promises. We must always remember that peace is a fragile thing that needs constant vigilance. We owe them a promise to look at the world with a steady gaze and, perhaps, a resigned toughness, knowing that we have adversaries in the world and challenges and the only way to meet them and maintain the peace is by staying strong.

That, of course, is the lesson of this century, a lesson learned in the Sudetenland, in Poland, in Hungary, in Czechoslovakia, in Cambodia. If we really care about peace, we must stay strong. If we really care about peace, we must, through our strength, demonstrate our unwillingness to accept an ending of the peace. We must be strong enough to create peace where it does not exist and strong enough to protect it where it does. That's the lesson of this century and, I think, of this day. And that's all I wanted to say. The rest of my contribution is to leave this great place to its peace, a peace it has earned.

Thank all of you, and God bless you, and have a day full of memories.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Arizona's New Immigration Law

There is a lot of handwringing by liberals about how unconstitutional the new Arizona immigration law is. Of course, I doubt if one in a 1,000 of those who are complaining have actually read the law. I have. But rather than give you my opinion, let me share with you what the person who actually wrote the law has to say on the subject.

I am the author of Senate Bill 1070, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer.

Maybe liberals ought to read the Constitution, case law or even just the bill itself before citing incorrect information. Fear-mongering and misinformation are the opponents' only tool against this common sense legislation.

"Illegal" is not a race, it is a crime. SB1070 simply codifies federal law into state law, removes excuses and concerns about states' inherent authority to enforce these laws and removes all illegal "sanctuary" policies.

When do we stand up for Americans and the rule of law? If not now, when? We are a nation of laws, a Constitutional Republic.

Arizona did not make illegal, illegal. Illegal was already illegal. It is a crime to enter or remain in the U.S. in violation of federal law. States have had inherent authority to enforce immigration laws and have failed or refused to do so. Sanctuary policies are illegal under federal law (8 USC 1644 & 1373) yet we have them all over the United States.

Paul Kantner of the 1960s rock band Jefferson Airplane once remarked, "San Francisco is 49 square miles surrounded by reality." When I first heard that San Francisco was planning to boycott Arizona over the SB1070 legislation that I introduced, this description seemed fitting.

However, when neighboring Oakland's city council voted 7-0 to boycott Arizona last Tuesday, and President Pro Tem of the California State Senate Derrell Steinberg announced a campaign in the legislature to boycott us, it became clear that San Francisco is merely ahead of the California crazy curve.

Why did I propose SB1070? I saw the enormous fiscal and social costs that illegal immigration was imposing on my state. I saw Americans out of work, hospitals and schools overflowing, and budgets strained. Most disturbingly, I saw my fellow citizens victimized by illegal alien criminals. The murder of Robert Krentz - whose family had been ranching in Arizona since 1907 - by illegal alien drug dealers was the final straw for many Arizonans.

Illegal aliens have murdered dozens of other citizens of our state. Currently, 95 illegal aliens are in Maricopa County jail on murder charges.

Most of the hysterical critics of the bill do not even know what is in it. All SB1070 does is allow Arizona law enforcement officials to detain illegal aliens under state law. The law does not allow police to stop suspected illegal aliens unless they have already come across them through normal "lawful conduct" such as a traffic stop, and explicitly prohibits racial profiling.

Aside from the unfounded accusation of racial profiling, the chief complaint about the bill is that it infringes on federal jurisdiction by enforcing laws. However, a long legal precedent going back to 1976 allows states to enact legislation to discourage illegal immigration so long as it does not conflict with federal law. We specifically designed SB1070 to mirror federal immigration law to avoid such a conflict.

For all their newfound respect for the authority of federal immigration law, the open borders advocates who oppose SB1070 have no problems with "sanctuary cities" such as San Francisco that explicitly obstruct federal immigration authorities to protect illegal aliens. In 2008, San Francisco began a campaign to encourage illegal aliens to take advantage of the city's public services.

Mayor Gavin Newsom stated, "We have worked with the Board of Supervisors, Department of Public Health, labor and immigrant rights groups to create a city government-wide public awareness campaign so that immigrants know the city won't target them for using city services."

The results were tragic. A few months after the campaign, Edwin Ramos, an illegal alien and member of the MS 13 gang, murdered San Francisco resident Tony Bologna and his two sons whom he mistook for rival gang members. Ramos had a lengthy criminal record including a felony assault on a pregnant woman. Police arrested him on gang and weapons charges and promptly released him just three months before the murder. Not once did San Francisco report him to immigration authorities.

Our law is already working. One can just scan the newspapers and see dozens of headlines like "Illegal Immigrants Leaving Arizona Over New Law: Tough, Controversial New Legislation Scares Many in Underground Workforce Out of State,"

In contrast, American citizens are leaving California. For the past four years, more Americans have left the state than have moved in.

In criticizing the SB1070, President Barack Obama said, "Our failure to act responsibly at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others." There is nothing irresponsible about enforcing our law, but President Obama is right in that this is only necessary because the federal government does not do its job.

The solution is not "comprehensive immigration reform," a euphemism for amnesty. This will only encourage more illegal immigration. Making illegal aliens legal does nothing to change the social and fiscal costs they impose on Arizona or the nation as a whole. In fact, the Heritage Foundation's research puts the cost of amnesty at more than $2.5 trillion.

The federal government simply needs to enforce its immigration laws by cracking down on employers of illegal aliens, securing our borders, and deporting illegal alien criminals. Attrition by enforcement.

If states understand states' rights and our Constitutional duty and responsibility to our citizens this legislation in Arizona will be a model for states across the nation and the federal government and it will end illegal immigration to America, but President Obama is looking toward San Francisco instead.

Russell Pearce is a member of the Arizona State Senate representing Legislative District 18 and author of SB1070.

Maybe it's better than they say it is. Here is my "e-trade baby shock face."